2008/11/11

90 years ago: End of the Great War

World War I (then known as "The Great War") ended 90 years ago, on 11 November 1918. The last veterans died peacefully in the past few years.

90 years ago a war finally came to an end that had almost shattered the fabric of Europe; culture, states, economy, science, population. The terrible 1918 flu pandemic killed even more people till 1920, but didn't have such lasting impact.

Europe had changed forever in World War I.
The British Empire was ruined.
Bolshevism had conquered the remains of the broken up Russian Tzar empire.
Austria-Hungary, a power with hundreds of years of history and important force for order in South-East Europe, had gone.
The Ottoman Empire had gone.
France had experienced severe destruction and a disproportionate loss of life.
The young nation Italy had experienced a huge loss of life and had its weak economy strained beyond its limits.
The young nation Germany had experienced huge loss of life, was ruined economically and it was the only major surviving losing power. It got all the blame - and a unhealthy dosage of humiliation by France and Poland. It barely kept the radical left from permanent power, instead falling prey to the radical right after two more major crisis (hyper inflation and great depression).

The war had left more scars than that, though. The culture had changed - beyond culture fashions like clothes. Many Europeans came to see war as a terribly destructive and lethal event for little or no gain. War wasn't like in the old times - coloured soldier marching to distant battlefields. War had become once again like the Thirty Years War - utterly destructive, uncivilized, ruining, maiming, destroying everything that generations had worked for. This became part of the national heritage - a certain commemoration of war. Europe offered everyone a demonstration of war that could help others to learn about the true nature of war.

The lesson has faded a bit over generations - despite being refreshed by the even more destructive Word War II. The price that Europe had paid for the insight was excessive - and it's even more outrageous that other nations apparently didn't learn the same lesson yet. Europe's large nations are different from other nations - for a reason.
That's not cowardice of flimsiness; it's wisdom. Expensive and valuable wisdom.
Let's not forget the lesson, or else two generations of our ancestors would have suffered completely in vain.

Sven Ortmann

1 comment:

  1. The US of A & many Asian states have MUCH to learn from European experiences, blinded they are by so called "patriotism".

    There is much to worry 'bout these right wing groups, especially those nationalist fronts in Asia.

    ReplyDelete

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